9 Celebrities Reciting Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”
Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven,” published in 1845, has been creatively interpreted many times over the past 170 years. Here are nine recordings of celebrities that you'll probably recognize, putting their own spin on Poe's iconic verses.
1. CHRISTOPHER WALKEN
Everyone does a Christopher Walken impression, but rarely do they come close to matching the unique inflection of the real deal. For the Poe tribute album Closed on Account of Rabies (1997), Walken recited the classic narrative poem as various haunting sound effects moaned and whistled in the background.
2. JAMES EARL JONES
There are very few actors whose voices are as iconic as James Earl Jones's. From Darth Vader in the Star Wars films to Mufasa in The Lion King (1994), you always know when the veteran thespian—who had a stutter as a child—is behind a character because of the deep, theatrical boom of his voice.
3. SIR CHRISTOPHER LEE
Known to younger generations as the actor who played Saruman in The Lord of the Rings franchise, the late Christopher Lee has over 270 acting credits to his name, dating all the way back to the mid-1940s. Of those credits, Lee has lent his skills and voice to numerous legendary characters, including Hamlet, Sherlock Holmes, and Dracula several times over.
4. VINCENT PRICE
The actor—and the creepy voice—in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” needs no introduction to horror fans (or to those who remember the old Tilex mildew remover commercials). The clip above isn't the only time that Price was recorded reciting Poe’s poetry. If you want more, check out the hour-long Halloween special An Evening Of Edgar Allan Poe (1970), during which Price reads “The Tell-Tale Heart,” "The Sphinx," "The Cask of Amontillado," and "The Pit and the Pendulum."
5. STAN LEE
If Stan Lee hadn't gone into comics, he could have been a voice actor—at least based on his 2008 reading of "The Raven," a poem he says he at one point had memorized.
6. JOHN ASTIN
Known primarily for the role of Gomez Addams in the television show The Addams Family, John Astin’s eyes and mustache add to the creepiness (and unintentional humor) of his dramatic reading of "The Raven," as he stands in full costume.
7. BASIL RATHBONE
Many recordings were made of this Shakespearean stage actor and star of many a Sherlock Holmes movie as he read the works of authors like Oscar Wilde, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and, of course, Poe. In the recording above, his voice fluctuates from calm and almost musical to loud and quite terrifying as things begin to escalate between man and bird.
8. WILLIAM SHATNER
To the world, William Shatner will always be Captain Kirk. The character is so closely tied to the actor’s personality that it’s hard not to see them as the same person, which makes it harder to watch—or take seriously—a young Shatner reciting “The Raven” on stage during Dick Clark’s Magical, Musical Halloween (1983).
9. TAY ZONDAY
If you're familiar with the Internet at all, then you probably know Tay Zonday. The deep-voiced YouTube celebrity rose to Internet fame with his song and music video "Chocolate Rain" back in 2007, and he has been using his natural voice to delight and unsettle audiences ever since.